In search of a support group

Written by: Mala Pachla

To be honest, I must admit that this blog post was inspired by facebook, or to be more specific, the profile of a gentleman who often writes about and promotes all the goings on in the Beskid Niski mountain range, where I am honored to currently reside. This time he wrote about a certain condition many suffer from, including myself and a lot of you reading this, I am sure. We’re talking about an addiction to mushrooming. When the time of year comes when mushrooms start popping up, the afflicted begin to behave irrationally. Personally, I can be found looking for mushrooms up to three times a day. No…  it’s not because I have that much free time. Yes… I am neglecting my many other duties and chores. No… I have no remorse… Yes… I like my addiction and no, I’m not going to fight it. Although… it would be nice to find a support group that will convince me that the addiction that comes with picking up mushrooms is a great addiction, beneficial to all… it keeps you busy, that’s a fact but I take that in stride with all the pros and cons.

You enter the forest and begin to sharpen you eyesight. You look to the left, to the right. Looking, sniffing, hunting. Never mind all the brushwood, spider webs, inclines… You’re there with one purpose. To find it, to feel the adrenaline that accompanies finding it, touching it, checking whether it is wormy or not. The joy of finding a chanterelle is a great one, but there’s nothing like finding a penny bun or an orange birch bolete. And red pine mushrooms… they sure are in abundance here, but the first ones make me happy as well.

As you walk through the forest time ceases to matter. “Maybe I’ll turn here as well, where that great bolete grew last year?" You climb the hills, pushing forward without a map, the road is far behind you, the dogs run happy (yes, dogs and taking them for a walk is a great excuse for addicts of mushroom picking), so you keep walking...

And then you return, tired, full of oxygen, happy. Your basket is full but the you keep looking around and sniffing for more. And so you mistake leaves for mushroom hats, or you find an inedible mushroom pretending to be a penny bun, or you find nothing but you still see something… that is not there. Mushrooms…

And as you approach home, it dawns on you that you will spend the next few hours processing, cleaning, sorting, cutting, cooking. The jars need to be scalded. Heat up the oven and dry them, or maybe cook a sauce, or maybe make scrambled eggs with chanterelles, or maybe make mushroom soup…

Yes, I'm addicted. I’ve been addicted since I was child. I sucked this addiction from my mother's milk, as we say. I surround myself with addicted people and I’m extremely comfortable with my addiction.

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